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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Oct 20, 2020

Ghostly Guest Makes Her Presence Known in Current Residents’ Home

By Lori Draz

Linden Hill around Halloween

Are ghosts real? Lifelong journalist, historian and author of her new, fifth book, “The ABCs of Highlands,” Muriel Smith says they are not only real, but a part of the family. Smith has devoted her life as a journalist to finding the facts, so when her son, Jim, and his wife, Stacey, moved into their new home called Linden Hill, the research began shortly after the visitations began. Linden Hill is a charming antebellum Greek Revival-style home in western Mississippi and the home of Beulah Cawthon. The Smiths were not really believers, but they purchased the house sight unseen after seeing it was advertised with a ghost. Both say that they immediately felt all kinds of signs that an active Beulah was in the house with them.

Beulah Cawthon had a difficult life. She was the second child of NW and Beulah Burke Cawthon. She was in her late 20s, still living at home, when her parents said she had mental problems. They had her committed to the Mississippi State Insane Asylum in Jackson after she was diagnosed with circular manic depression, or bipolar disorder.

She showed enough improvement that she returned home in a few months, but in little time, her mental stress returned and she was once more hospitalized, where she would spend the rest of her life. For 40 long years, Beulah moved to different facilities, never to taste freedom again.

Beulah died in 1968, and even in death, she did not have love or family. Her brother, William, buried her in Hill Crest Cemetery with her father’s first wife and their daughter, Alice – neither of whom Beulah ever knew. Her father had a stone erected in another part of the cemetery commemorating his parents and his brother, but Beulah was laid to rest with strangers.

Beulah Cawthon’s grave

In 1935, the home has been sold to a woman who knew the family. She lived there alone, noticing all kinds of unexplainable occurrences for years. She assumed the spirit of the elder Beulah was still in residence. Later, the now-grandmother welcomed her granddaughter, Charlotte, into her home. Charlotte grew up in the house, living peacefully with Beulah’s frequent visits. In a recent interview, Charlotte said, “Something was always happening. Drawers opened and closed on their own, but my grandmother always said, ‘Oh that’s just Beulah. Pay it no mind!’” In 1968, the activity picked up dramatically. The women were convinced the elder Beulah had been replaced by the spirit of her daughter.

The younger Beulah had become a prankster, letting the residents know with playful reminders that she was a spirit happy at last to be in the house with happy people. There are knocks on the door with no visitors, chandeliers sway and their crystals tinkle with no breeze, lights flicker, and a variety of sounds and smells are always popping up.

The Smiths learned more strange things that happened at Linden Hill. There were stories about the sounds of boots with spurs on them, like those of a Confederate soldier. Could they belong to one of the soldiers who destroyed Union supplies when General Ulysses S. Grant was encamped there? Another woman had spent the night in the house in 1968, the year Beulah died, and felt someone grab her arm while she was sleeping, hard enough to awaken her and have her cry out. There was no one around, but there was a distinctive handprint on her arm.


The Smiths were determined to find out more, and it wasn’t long before they got firsthand evidence that Beulah was with them in the house.

Her visits became so frequent, they said, that they just agreed to become comfortable with her. They’ve even made some adjustments to make life a little more peaceful. For instance, Beulah opened and closed the windows so much, so Jim nailed them all shut; they don’t answer the door every time they hear a knock, but their dogs rush forward, only to whimper and cower in a corner. They had to remove many of the doors between rooms because of the constant opening and closing. It’s still hard to ignore the horrible aroma of castor oil they smell occasionally. Stacey sages the house and has rosary beads hanging of every door still standing.

The Linden Hill hauntings are so frequent it has attracted national attention. Mississippi’s Clarion Ledger’s award-winning journalist Jerry Mitchell profiled Linden Hill, and the story was picked up by United Press International, appeared in US News & Report and close to 1300 other outlets. The home was also investigated by a paranormal team on the Travel Channel’s “Haunted in the Heartland,” whose staff determined the hauntings were real.

We wonder if Beulah comes along with Jim and Stacey when they visit Muriel in New Jersey. We’ll ask if Muriel is willing to answer a knock on her door.